Accessories, lamps, and collections stamp your personality on your home and add important finishing touches if they are neat and sparkling clean. Here are some suggestions on how to care for them.
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Table and Floor Lamps
- Unplug the lamp and remove the shade and bulb.
- Dust the bulb.
- Wipe glass, ceramic, marble, stoneware, china, or plastic lamps with a damp cloth and warm soapy water.
- Rinse with clear water and another cloth.
- Dry thoroughly, replace the bulb and shade, and plug in the lamp.
- If your lamp is brass, nickel, or chrome, dust with a soft dust cloth and polish with a cleaner formulated for the specific metal.
Remove the lampshade and place it on a solid surface. Most lampshades are assembled with glue that is easily damaged by water. Vacuum the shade with a handheld vacuum and a soft brush attachment, or use a feather duster or soft, clean paintbrush. Do not use a lamb's-wool duster, because the lanolin may stain the fabric.
Wipe metal and plastic shades with a slightly damp cloth. Dry immediately.
Metal shades may rust, especially at rivet points, and plastic shades may water-spot. Dry-clean silk shades, antique shades, or those with delicate trims.
Shade Update Tip: Refresh an old lamp with a new shade in an interesting shape or texture. For the correct shade height, have a lamp shop fit the new shade and replace the harp, which attaches the shade, if necessary. Add a new finial for a decorative touch.
Regularly dust ceiling lights, track lights, canister lights, and sconces with a feather duster. Removable shades usually can be washed in warm soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing them.
For fixtures such as sconces and track lights, turn off the electricity at the breaker box. Wipe the fixtures with a slightly damp cloth. Dry thoroughly before turning on the power.
See chandelier cleaning tips below.
- Use a feather duster to regularly dust chandeliers.
- For deeper cleaning, turn off the power at the breaker box and follow the steps below.
- Remove and wipe the bulbs.
- Move the dining table or other furniture from beneath the chandelier if possible, and protect the floor with heavy-duty plastic drop cloths.
- Thoroughly dust the entire fixture with a clean cloth or duster. Do not use commercial dusting agents because they may leave a residue. Inspect for problems such as loose wiring.
- Gently wipe with a barely damp soft cloth or sponge.
- Cover sockets with plastic sandwich bags held in place with rubber bands.
- Spray one crystal with your homemade cleaning solution (see recipe below), avoiding wires, hangers, and electrical components.
- Allow to drip dry. Rinse crystal with a spray of distilled water, avoiding wires.
- If you are satisfied, spray and clean the remaining crystals and allow to air-dry overnight.
- Remove the bags from sockets. Wipe with a soft dry cloth to ensure that there is no seeping moisture before turning on the power.
- Homemade Crystal Cleaning Solution: Mix a solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol OR 1 part non-sudsing ammonia to 3 parts water. Use distilled water if your tap water is hard.
- Tip to Catch Those Drips: When spraying crystals, you can hang a lightweight oversize umbrella, such as a golf umbrella, upside down under the fixture to catch dropping.
- For brass, metal, and other chandeliers: Dust with a feather duster or lamb's-wool duster. Turn off the power at the breaker box and remove the bulbs. Clean the chandelier following the instructions given for table and floor lamps. Replace the bulbs and restore the power.
Prints, Frames, Ceramics
Take care of your prized collections and you'll have family heirlooms to pass down for generations. Sentimental value is as important as monetary value, and meaningful objects deserve the best care.
Paintings, prints, and drawings: Leave deep cleaning and restoration to professionals. Dust artwork with a soft, dry paintbrush. Keep away from direct sun, heat, cooking, and smoke.
Picture frames: Dust picture frames with a soft, dry paintbrush. Frequently dust the tops of frames, being careful that dust doesn't fall onto the art. Clean ornate frames with pure canned air that contains no cleaners or lubricants (available at computer and art supply stores). Use the attachable straw-like nozzle to reach small cracks and crevices.
Ceramics: Wash glazed ceramics in lukewarm soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Wipe unglazed ceramics with a damp cloth, avoiding immersing into water.
Find more tips below.
Brass, Ivory, and Clocks
Brass: A gentle patina is desirable; tarnish is not. If you prefer shiny brass use brass polish that contains wax to seal the surface and prevent the brass from acquiring an aged look. However, if you like patina use brass polish without wax. The brass will initially look shiny, then mellow. Keep brass away from humidity and handle as little as possible.
Antique ivory, horn, and bone: To keep the desirable warm white color, expose to natural light but keep away from intense sunlight and heat. Dust with a soft, dry cloth. Do not expose to water or cleansers. Wipe ivory piano keys with a soft, damp cloth. If the keys are soiled, swipe the cloth over a cake of Ivory soap and rub the key in a lengthwise motion until the stain disappears. Dry the keys with a soft cloth. Do not use solvents or chemicals with real ivory.
Clocks: Follow the care instructions that you would for furniture made from the same material. Keep clocks on level surfaces, away from temperature changes, direct sunlight, and heat vents.
Place tall case clocks such as grandfather clocks in stable corners where they are least likely to be tipped over or knocked into. Clock repair and sales shops sell devices to secure clocks to the wall.
Polish brass, silver, or other metal candlesticks with a cream metal polish formulated for the specific metal and a clean, soft cotton cloth. Never use paper towel as it can scratch the metal surface. Take care to remove polish from the crevices.
Wipe glass and crystal candlesticks with a mild vinegar-and-water solution or with a clean, soft cotton rag moistened with commercial glass cleaner. Soak grimy candlesticks in a vinegar-and-water bath. Rinse, dry, and polish with a lint-free cloth.
Tip for De-Waxing: To remove wax from new candlesticks that are not antique copper or brass, gently warm the holder with a hair dryer. Don't overheat. Or place candle holders upside down on a baking sheet and heat in the oven to the lowest setting. Wipe away wax.
Soft accent pieces, such as pillows, textiles, tassels, and trims, collect as much dust as upholstered furniture, and may be too fragile to withstand vacuuming or beating. Clean them safely.
See our tips below for tassels, quilts, afghans, pillows, and embellishments.
Decorative Tassels and Trims
To remove accumulated dust and dirt, remove the trim from upholstery, pillows, or window treatments. Place the trim in a mesh laundry bag. Fluff in the dryer on air cycle. Reattach by hand-stitching into place. Note: This works best for trims that have been hand stitched. Do not remove trims that are securely attached or that have been glued.
Launder as little as possible. When they require washing, check with quilting or fabric shops to purchase laundry soap formulated for washing quilts. Wash in cool water on the gentle cycle. Dry on low temperature. Do not dry-clean quilts.
Tips for Displaying Quilts: - To display a stack of folded quilts and textiles, occasionally rearrange and refold the pieces to prevent a permanent crease and to avoid light damage along the folded edges. - If you use a quilt as coverlet or folded on a bed, turn and rotate it for even wear. - If you hang a quilt as art, keep it out of direct light and turn it for even wear.
Throws and Afghans
Consult manufacturer's directions for laundry or dry cleaning instructions. Fibers and construction vary widely, preventing set rules. Recently made throws and afghans are likely to have acrylic yarns and can be laundered by machine using a gentle cycle, cool water, and mild detergent. Tumble dry on low until complete dry. Do not line-dry afghans; the weight of the wet yarns distort the shape.
Take off removable outer pillow covering whenever possible. Most pillow fabrics will require dry cleaning; however, some cotton fabrics, such as bedspread chenille, chintz, and other plain weaves can be gently machine-washed in cool water and then dried on low heat. Spot-clean with a commercial stain remover to eliminate small amounts of oil. Follow the manufacturer's directions and always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area.
Embellishments such as fringe, trims, buttons, and other decorations are often the most fragile and least colorfast parts of pillows. Let professionals deal with heavily accented pillows.
For washable fringed pieces or those with sturdy button or stud trims, place the pillow cover inside a pillow protector to machine wash on gentle cycle in cool water. Remove the pillow immediately to prevent trims from rusting or bleeding. Dry in a cool dryer.